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Doctor Who: One Last Look at The Thirteenth Doctor's Final Adventures

This is it, the last Doctor Who post of the year and possibly the last Doctor Who compilation video of the year. And it just must be another look at the Thirteenth Doctor's (Jodie Whittaker) final adventures. That's "Flux," that season that nearly tanked the show. Yes, let's pick at that scab again.

Doctor Who: Flux Clips Video Shows How the Doctor and Yaz were Wasted
Doctor Who: Flux, image credit: BBC

"Flux" had some decent ideas buried under reams of boring expositional dialogue. The scripts were pretty much first drafts. For most screenwriters, first drafts are known as "vomit drafts," usually over-written with too much on-the-nose dialogue. Notes and rewrites would have refined those scripts where dialogue would have been edited down, and the story made more visual, the characters more active rather than standing around explaining the plot to each other. That didn't seem to happen with "Flux," so we're left with a near-endless stream of mediocrity, the worst kind of Doctor Who that haters have stereotyped for years: The Doctor and the villains spouting gobbledegook interminably. Things because just "because." Chibnall even succeeded in making the Weeping Angels dull and not scary. "Eve of the Daleks" was an otherwise generic Dalek story with Groundhog Day slapped over it, but deeply messed up when it had a guy who was an utter creeper with mental problems (Adjani Salmon) win the love of the girl he was stalking (Irish comedienne Aisling Bea). "Legend of the Sea Devils" took the real-life 19th Century Chinese pirate queen, one of the most fascinating people in history, and made her utterly boring.

Chibnall clearly related to Dan most of all because he could write him melancholy and soulful effortlessly while he had to strain to give the Doctor any pathos. Chibnall struggled to give Yaz (Mandip Gil) any personality at all and finally found some definition for the character by having her fall in love with the Doctor. That wasn't even his idea. Jodie Whittaker saw the #Thazmin memes on social media and suggested that he put their romance into the show. Jodie Whittaker had more creative ideas for her Doctor than Chibnall did! To his credit, Chibnall was a democratic leader, often asking his cast what they wanted to do on the show and doing his best to accommodate them. It's one reason they liked him so much and remained loyal to him.

The 13th Doctor was Asexual by Accident or Default?

LGBTQ fans were disappointed at the timidity of the Thazmin love story. They didn't even kiss. It was too little, too late. But what if there was another take on this? You could read their love story as an asexual romance. Being Ace is the most misunderstood of the LGBTQ spectrum, where one is interested in emotional and romantic intimacy but has no sexual interest in the one they love. Where previous (male) Doctors were presented as flirtatious and sexy men, the Thirteenth Doctor was presented as lacking in any sexual energy or spark. Chibnall had declared that The Doctor was nonbinary. She wore a rainbow on her shirt. Nothing about the Thirteenth Doctor was created by accident.

This is all speculation, of course. It's possible that Chibnall made his run on Doctor Who as inoffensive as possible because there was pressure to do so. The BBC is under right-wing leadership, and the show is sold to countries where LGBTQ representation would have gotten it banned. As it is, the one who best understood The Doctor has been Jodie Whittaker, but she didn't get to write her scripts. Juno Dawson's audio drama series Doctor Who: Redacted played with The Doctor more than the TV series ever did, including the moment when the trans heroine, played by Charlie Craggs, discovers The Doctor used to be a man and feels a kinship with her. Jodie Whittaker's Doctor remains one of unfulfilled potential, and it's probably going to take some Big Finish audio dramas in the future by more creative and adventurous writers to bring that out.

For now, we'll leave you with Segun Akinola's underrated theme for the Thirteenth Doctor, which evokes all the epic mystery, wonder, and potential that the show never tapped into.

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Adi TantimedhAbout Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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